Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 28: Everybody Loves An American (Kind Of...)

Last weekend, my host siblings told me to pack a small bag, put me in the car, handed me the first of many beers, and drove me to one of the coolest places I've ever experienced: a Ukrainian music festival in Poland called WATRA. 

When preparing for this weekend, I was unsure of what to expect. Do the Polish dress up in neon fur boots, frat tanks, and light-up gloves while covering themselves in buckets of glitter for music festivals? (This description totally makes Ultra look like a drag show, but if that were the case, I'd love it so much more). Or is this a Hangout Music Fest, Alabama kind of thing, sporting bathing suites, tshirts that become drenched in the smell of every fried food on the planet, and cowboy hats (surprisingly enough, there were a few ten-gallon hats at the Ukrainian fest- the southern girl in me got super stoked). I really had no clue what to expect, so following Marysia's suggestions, I packed normal tshirts, shorts, jeans, and a raincoat in hopes that I wouldn't stick out like a sore American thumb. 

I totally stuck out like an American thumb. 

When we arrived on Friday, I watched as my host siblings pitched the tents (after I tried a few times, it just seemed easier to not help at all than for them to try and teach me...#worstcampbuddyever). Then the drinking commenced. We headed down to the huge tent where all of the food and drink vendors had set up shop, and ordered a few beers to get the night going. After dancing to some Ukrainian rock band and watching a boxing match on stage (classic Ukrainian band intermission apparently), we ended up back at the tents where I was offered vodka straight from the bottle. Every American college post-grad has some kind of horrible experience with vodka that makes even the smell of it nauseating (the fact that I had a bottle of cotton candy flavored vodka in my dorm room for an entire semester was enough to make Brittany hate the drink forever). But this was Poland, and I was representing the drinking abilities of all Americans in that moment, so like a champ, I took a gulp. 

Eventually, I ended up back at the tent where I passed out for the remainder of the night, only to wake up to delicious grilled sausage and a view of a random man passed out in the woods nearby. I thought this was hysterical and snapped a quick photo, but my host siblings became very nervous that I developed a bad preception of the Polish based on this passed out man. I told them not to worry, as Americans are equally guilty of strange drunken shenanigans (tree-hugger girl at Ultra anyone?), and that there are more people passed out at an American frat party than there are red solo cups. 

***Side Note: Since I now know most of my host family (and majority of my students who are Facebook friends with me now) all read my blog, quick shout out to my fabulous host siblings, Marysia, Pawel, Marzena, and Piotr for this incredible weekend! THANKS GUYS!!! You're the best :D

The day on Saturday consisted of four things: sleep, eat, drink, repeat. However some of the afternoon napping was put on hold by a Slovakian Rastafarian drum circle. Yes, there was a Slovakian Rastafarian drum circle right next to our tents. Let's acknowledge for a moment that there are Rastafarians even IN Slovakia, but what's more incredible is they came to Ukrainian music festival in Poland and spent majority of the day tripped out with drums. The day got even weirder when one came over to talk to us, found out I was American, told the rest of the camp, and for the rest of the weekend the group yelled out "Julie! American!" anytime I was remotely near their tents. By nightfall, my host fam and I had gotten so frustrated (aided by beer) with the group, that Marysia told them I was actually a Polish girl named Ana and she was the actual American from Chicago ('cause all Polish people have family in Chicago). I think I pulled it off pretty well when one came over to ask me what was going on, and I responded, "No speak English!" then ran into the tent. 

That night was basically a repeat of the night before with a little less vodka and little more zapiekanke ('cause I'm the girl who prefers late night drunk food over the actual process of getting drunk). The next morning, we packed, loaded up the car, and headed to a nearby ski resort to take a gondola up to the top for some incredible views. Seeing the resort awakened a long dormant need for snowboarding (Miami palm trees have a way of dismissing any thoughts of weather below 70 degrees), and in that moment I decided that if I'm ever able to afford a return trip to Poland, it'll be to shred down that beautiful mountain in the snow.

Speaking of return trips, this happens to be my last week in Poland, so it's hard to not think about planning one. I'm having really conflicting feelings when it comes to my departure. On one hand, the thought of returning to friends, family, Chipotle, Netflix, and full cell phone capabilities is super exciting. But I'm just starting to find my place in Komancza and with my students, and leaving them will not be easy. I feel like I've been welcomed into their lives only to say goodbye so soon. 

But now is not the time for sad posts. I still have four more days in Komancza, and I don't plan on wasting any time being sad!

Until next time,

***Other WATRA events that occurred and didn't know how to incorporate them in earlier:
* Marysia and I had a slew of Ukrainian friends that kept following us around for about an hour, insisting on speaking to me in Ukrainian despite my multiple attempts to tell them I had no idea what they were saying. Respect for the persistence on international diplomacy though, bro.
* The bathroom attendant at the festival knew me by name by the end of the weekend. I'm pretty sure I was the only American at the festival, and I provided loads of entertainment for her the entire time. 

***Quote of the weekend from host sibling: "You are not a typical American, you can keep up with our drinking!" ---> aka. Win like no other win in the history of wins. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Julie!
    I read this post (but I don't understand everything) and I'm supirsed that American girl can assimilate with our "Polish world". Poles and American are totally different. Our Slavic soul doesn't match to your "American civilization". Specially in Bieszczady ... Komańcza. I hope you never forget Poland and time that you spend there. Do you wanna back here in future? I regret that Marysia don't introduce us. I heard many times from M. "Julie is awesom" haha. Greetings!